by Erica DeBarge
Is it possible to miss you even though I have three months more? The inherent kindness of strangers—their naturally open, welcoming, and talkative nature. The terrazas—why would anyone eat inside when the weather in Madrid is almost always beautiful, sunny, and breezy? The winter sunsets (and sunsets in general). The abnormally long hours of sunlight. The late nature of everything from sleep, work, and school to meals—I feel like I get more out of my day. The free museums—El Prado and Reina Sofia. The social nature of food and meals—people take their sweet time and chat.
“This experience has been incredible. I have learned so many things about Spanish culture, food, history etc. from talking to my fellow teachers at the school or the kids who are always eager to talk to a tall, blonde Americano. Everyone has been very welcoming to me and always helps me with my Spanish language skills. I’ve seen much greater improvement in the English level of the classes that I spend time in than those that I go to less often, which is a sign of the difference I have made so far. I’ve also noticed in myself a deep desire to keep learning. I see kids every day who do not take advantage of their opportunities in class, and I cannot help but think that I have done the same for much of my time in school.
Being in this service-learning program has been a very enlightening and beneficial experience to me and if you are curious, I strongly encourage you to take a closer look at the program to see if it interests you. With all of the stress that built up for me in high school, I would be so incredibly overwhelmed if I were at Tufts right now. And being away from school for a year has only increased my desire to go back to Tufts and continue with my education. The program staff and my 1+4 peers have been so supportive of me.”
-Evan, #1plus4spain fellow, shares his #my1plus4story on his #tufts1plus4 bridge-year!
“I could not be happier that I took a year for myself between high school and college. It’s not that I didn’t feel ready for college, but that now, I really know how to engage and appreciate my experience here. My bridge year taught me about my passions and gave me time to explore the way the world works before I had to apply those things to my life here on campus. Plus, now I can connect with my all of my Tufts peers in a totally new and exciting way because of my bridge year experience.”-Madeline Weir
Madeline is now a first-year student at Tufts, where she is studying International Relations.
This is 1+4 alumnus Justin Mejia:
Justin was a Spain fellow in 2015-2016, and wrote this at the conclusion of his bridge-year:
“This Bridge year was the best thing that could have happened after graduating high school. Being able to explore new and amazing places while making a difference was truly incredible. I learned so much about the world and about myself which makes me feel ready and excited for college. ”
Justin has brought his 1+4 experiences with him and has done some incredible things on the Tufts campus already!
Starting today, we’ll be doing a weekly My 1+4 Story feature. These stories will focus on the experiences of our fellows in choosing the 1+4 program, and/or the impact of the 1+4 experience. Our first My 1+4 Story comes from current Spain fellow Jiyoon.
by Jiyoon Chon
“Normality is a paved road; it’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow.” –Vincent Van Gogh
For most of my life, I’ve been walking on the paved road. Sure, I excelled enough to get to where I am now, but still never really got off the beaten track. Introverted, quiet, polite, good grades, decent musician, frequent volunteer. Terrified of being put on the spot, slightly insecure and unconfident, usually conformed to the norms and status quo. I worked hard even though I didn’t really know where I was going, and fostered big dreams without knowing how exactly I was going to achieve them. Of course, along the way, I saw the dandelions peeking through the cracks in the concrete and smelled the wildflowers in the distance. I was comfortable, I was happy. But at the same time, I always felt like I was waiting. Waiting for some kind of big change, waiting for an opportunity to do something more, something crazy, something different.